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From The Class Of 2000: I Am Not A Child!! This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "Stop treating me like a kid - I'm not thirteen anymore," I protest. She always laughs at me for that.

"Of course not," my mother says, "you're fourteen. Big difference."

"You wouldn't understand. You're too young." That's what the seniors say.

Oh and I suppose you'd know, wouldn't you? Three more years of experience in getting drunk at parties, I guess.

"You're a kid - what do you expect?"

Gee mister, you gotta real knack for stating the obvious. Anything else you'd like to point out?

"Aren't you a bit young for that?"

Okay, then what do you want me to do? Go home, sleep on the sofa, call up a couple people, watch soap operas?? You have to be joking. I think society fails us by expecting us to be failures. I mean, yeah, I do go home and close my door, but behind that door I'm writing my stories and planning out my future - and excuse me, I don't feel like dragging it out into the living room. I think some people have got a lot of nerve - setting up my generation this way.

Ever since I was little, I was told I could do anything. So this isn't any surprise to me - or anyone who knows me. Not surprising that I took off for a science program this summer while my best friend played basketball on her driveway. Yeah, I come from a deficient age, all right, but with some judgment that didn't have to happen. The system almost, almost, failed me, too. If you think for a minute that some tacky-looking old lady inspired me beyond the desks of the nursery schools we call Junior High ... My English teachers have told me that stereotypes are wrong - we write essays about stereotypes, but they can't tell me why they stereotype me. I used to think that they were so smart - I always wanted to be as smart as smart as they were. But they couldn't answer the one thing I had to know. Reality check.

By now, I think I take those awards on my wall for granted. I don't suppose that helps the people I go to school with very much, does it? I know one of the best math students in my state - he's gifted, that's all there is to it. But he goes home and fries his brain on TV all day and I think he'll be lucky if he makes it to a community college. Another friend I know will be lucky if she gets through the next two years of school before she gets shipped off to work.

They're not stupid and I'm not a genius - so would somebody please explain to me why ... why neither of them are going to make it in what we term "the real world"?

I'm not a plant - I don't need someone to shelve me in a greenhouse and let me look out at the rest of the world. I want to be out there. As far as I'm concerned, I already own the outside world. I have since the day I was born. It's my environment to protect, it's my nation's debt to pay, and it's my future out there. I don't appreciate people telling me not to worry about it and to take things easy, just 'cause I look young. There's a lot I could be doing out there. And didn't it occur to anyone but me that by the next election I'll be voting?

We're treated like we're young, but we're not. We're so old. Because every day we're exposed to the sordid truths about our world. I don't want anyone to protect me from them or hide them from me. I want to see them, to know they're there, to know that it's not an impossibility to change things. (And I'm not being an idealistic child when I say that.)

My aim in life isn't to be famous, but it isn't to end up as a rotting black and white picture in a photo album, either. I am asking for the world here, but I'm not asking anyone to give it to me. I'm asking someone to give me a chance to take it, myself. ?


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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